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Superb pitching propels Pirates to 1-0 win over Brewers

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MLB: Pittsburgh Pirates at Arizona Diamondbacks Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Trevor Williams allowed only one hit along with a pair of walks over seven innings as he and two relievers combined for a two-hit shutout of visiting Milwaukee.

Williams threw 61 of 96 pitches for strikes, effectively working the edges of the plate as he got numerous swings and misses that led to seven strikeouts. Kyle Crick blazed through the eighth on only ten pitches, then we held our breath to see if the good Felipe would show up in the ninth.

Jhoulys Chacin was pitching nearly as well for the Brewers as he kept the Pirates scoreless through six innings. Colin Moran led off the seventh with a line drive single to center, but then inexplicably tried to steal second and was easily thrown out by catcher Eric Kratz, who entering the game had failed to do so with any runners. That didn’t stop Francisco Cervelli, who then drew a walk to go along with a pair of singles on the night. Josh Bell laced a grounder up the middle and Cervelli raced to third. With the go ahead runner at third base with fewer than two outs, Brewers’ manager Craig Counsell turned to pitcher Josh Hader, leading the world with 17.8 strikeouts every 9 innings.

Gregory Polanco struck out on three pitches from Hader, but with two outs Jordy Mercer ripped a 1-0 pitch down the left field line, scoring Cervelli with the games first and only run. David Freese pinch hit for the pitcher Williams and walked to load the bases, but the Pirates were denied insurance when Josh Harrison was called out on a 3-2 pitch at the knees.

It was with that 1-0 lead that Felipe Vazquez took the mound, and with two of the fist three batters swinging from the left side. Felipe jumped ahead of Christian Yelich 0-2, but couldn’t put him away as Yelich lined a single to right. Then Felipe went to work mixing in his off-speed pitches as Ryan Braun struck out on a changeup and the lefty Eric Thames on a slider. With one out to go, Hernan Perez grounded a 2-2 pitch to Josh Bell who took the play at first base himself to end the game, as Vazquez earned his 14th save.

The victory gives Pittsburgh four wins in their last five games and lifts them back to .500 at 36-36, 6.0 games behind the division leading Brewers and 3.0 out of the second Wild Card spot.

The series continues Tuesday at 7:05 pm Eastern, as Freddy Peralata (1-0, 3.72, 18 K’s in 9 23 IP) makes his third start, opposed by Jameson Taillon (4-5, 3.94)